It’s glorious summertime and that means travel for many of us. Traveling to Europe with a major time zone difference can be more than a little challenging. It can even give rise to an unenjoyable experience if your visit is a week or less.
Here are Linda and Bernie’s tips for how to beat the travel blahs of jet lag. We have employed these over the past six trips to Paris, and they help amazingly if you commit to the process. You can’t just do a piece of this but the whole procedure.
1. First of all, research the difference in hours between your time zone and the one where you are going. That will define your sleep patterns. For us in going to Paris, we are dealing with a 7-hour difference. We mentally break that down into one hour per day of bodily adjustment so our process starts a full week out from our departure date.
2. Each night of the seven nights, we go to bed one hour earlier and get up one hour earlier. This means that on the day of departure we are likely going to bed at 5 or 6pm after having gotten up at midnight.
3. Use earplugs and an eyemask to block out sound and light when going to bed so early. It’s kind of freaky but it does work.
4. Given this odd schedule, don’t plan very many outings that week before your trip, and arrange to eat lunch about nine o’clock and dinner about two o’clock in the afternoon. Yes, I know!
5. After you get on the plane for your overnight flight to Europe, commit to getting at least five hours of sleep, more if you can. Again use earplugs and the eye mask. Hopefully, you have saved enough to have bought a business class ticket with a seat that reclines! I take an AlevePM to assure that I sleep. Bernie doesn’t need it. He can sleep at will on a flagpole!
6. Avoid excessive alcohol as it is a stimulant. (Bernie does NOT abide by this rule!)
6. Drink a bottle of water every chance you get on the airplane to keep your body hydrated; and after you deplane, drink a bottle of water every hour for the next 12 hours or so.
7. Most important of all: don’t take a nap after you arrive! You will be sluggish and tired but make yourself push through it and go to bed no earlier than nine o’clock. It’s tough but if you omit this last step, you will have defeated all the other preparation.
Good luck with your travels. It helps, yes, if you’re retired as we are. But with a little creativity, you can still pull it off even if you’re still employed. It just takes vision: thinking ahead to a glorious, jet-lag-free vacation that you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Linda & Bernie